How I Prep For New York Fashion Week

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Yes, I plan what I wear during fashion week. I’ve always been this way. Pre-adulthood, I would get downright giddy thinking about back-to-school shopping and my first week of outfits. NYFW prep gives me that same feeling, it’s just a bit more amplified.

For me, New York Fashion Week outfit prep is not about figuring out what’s going to get me shot by street style photographers. I could care less about that. I simply enjoy clothes and I want to feel good about myself in a room full of well-dressed people.

Full disclosure: I don’t borrow anything nor do brands offer to lend me a week’s worth of clothes nor do I utilize press discounts. I’m not against those things, I just like to be as transparent as possible. I’m a “real” girl with a VERY real budget. Below are my rules for fashion week prep. Next week I will post my final outfits.

 1. Get inspired

It’s helpful to remind yourself of what you like. For example, I have a notebook that’s stuffed with magazine tear sheets of outfits or pieces of clothing that I’m drawn to. It’s also helpful to look at street style from previous fashion weeks to get a feel for what people wear and ultimately what you want to wear. I’m a big fan of A Love is Blind. The photographer Sandra Semburg has a discerning eye and isn’t looking for the most outlandish outfit that’s fit for an editorial. This transitions nicely into my next rule.

2. Don’t wear a costume or a cocktail dress

Ultimately, anything goes at fashion week and you’re free to wear whatever you want. But a quick way to stamp yourself with the “trying too hard” label is to wear the most over-the-top thing in your closet, or the most club-appropriate thing. Cocktail dresses and costumes look out of place. Sky high heels that you can’t walk in look dumb. Sneakers ARE ok. Flats ARE ok. Ultimately, whatever you want to wear is ok because its your body and your image. But I find that the girls who look the best look comfortable in their clothes. My philosophy is this: for fashion week you present the best version of yourself. That means wearing what you would normally wear on a day-to-day basis, but enhancing it slightly.

3. Make a preliminary list of things you want to wear 

Now that you have an idea of how you want to look, make a list of things you want to wear. I think about this about a month out. My list usually includes my favorite things I’ve bought over the past season. I’m not against wearing things I’ve already worn to fashion week. You buy clothes to wear them and the ones you love you want to wear over and over and over. See this Taylor Tomasi Hill post. My goal is to work with my existing wardrobe as much as possible.

4. Figure out what’s missing

I look over my preliminary list to see what I need to buy to complete unfinished looks. I spend the month leading up to fashion week (August or January) only buying things that fill in the gaps or things that I would wear to fashion week. Side note: I never buy things that I would only wear to fashion week. I’m usually always focused on buying shoes, accessories, and vintage. This season I was mostly thinking about shoes. The gold Prada flatforms were a consideration, but they sold out. I also perused Yoox and came across a couple Paul Smith shoes I liked. I also considered these B Store shoes and these Oscar de la Renta shoes. I was looking for a sandal that would jibe with ivory and denim. A statement shoe that wasn’t black. Tip: July/January are always ripe with sales. That’s when I usually buy my designer shoes. My top suggestion for shoe sales is Barneys.com, but be ready to buy because the good stuff sells out fast.

5. Go shopping, but be careful where you shop

There are a few things you can do if you’re seriously broke and don’t have a lot of money to spend on new clothes. Firstly, wear what you already own and embellish it with a few new accessories or a new pair of shoes. Accessories can elevate and transform an outfit. Just ask Iris Apfel. If I could only buy one new thing for fashion week, it would be a great pair of shoes. I think hair is important too. Invest in a great haircut or getting your hair color freshened up.

For clothes, go to vintage and thrift stores. I will always do this regardless of how much money I make because I enjoy vintage, but shopping vintage is also an easy way to ensure that someone else won’t be wearing what you’re wearing. I shop at stores like Zara, H&M, Anthropologie, and Club Monaco all the time, but for fashion week I stick to buying only basics at these stores. If you buy fashion pieces that are easily identifiable, there’s a strong possibility that someone else will be wearing it. Is it a big deal if someone is wearing the same thing as you? No. But it usually won’t be just one person. It will be 20.

6. Take pictures of prospective outfits

Mirrors are great, but they can be misleading. As evidenced in the slideshow above, I like to take picture of my outfits for special occasions. I use a tripod and a camera with a self timer, but an iPhone camera works as well I’m sure. Looking at a picture of an outfit allows you too instantly see what works and what doesn’t, or what needs to be added to the outfit or taken away. This is also a good lesson it what shapes and silhouettes work on your body. After looking at my outfits, I deduced that I needed white cat eye sunglasses, a red lip, and some bold earrings.

7. Get things tailored and dry cleaned

I will talk about this more on the site, but I’m always getting things tailored. It makes such a difference.  And because I buy vintage, I’m always getting things dry cleaned. There’s no way around it unfortunately. Steaming clothes also makes a difference. I like to steam and iron everything before the week starts and hang “my looks” on a garment rack. This makes everything super easy in the morning.

Extra point: Don’t forget about the handbags

That big, clunky handbag you tote all of your “essentials” in on a day-t0-day basis doesn’t usually work for fashion week. I say the smaller the better. For me, I usually wear clutches or cross body bags.

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